There are plenty of reasons to travel light when you are a long travel adventure. You will save money on checked bag fees and be sure the airlines don’t lose or damage your belongings. You won’t have to stop at baggage claim and won’t be separated from your belongings if you decide to switch flights. When walking or taking ground transportation in some foreign land, you will be able to easily keep track of your bag and keep it safe from theft. And you won’t be such a target for theft, as a wealthy looking tourist carrying a lot of expensive luggage. If you are the kind of person who usually travels with a lot of items, it may be hard for you to imagine bringing much less. But with proper planning, you can bring everything you need to stay on the road, for at least a month at a time, with just one bag. Here are some tips to make that happen.
Start with the right bag. One of the best kinds of bags to travel with is a mid-sized backpack that has built in wheels, a handle and an inner or side access laptop pouch. An optional, removable shoulder strap, to carry it like a duffle bag is an added bonus. You can save your bag and roll through airports at ease and stow it in the overhead bin on a plane.
Compartmentalizing is key. When you go through airport security, they are going to want you to remove your laptop and bottles of liquid. You don’t want to have to stop and dig all through your bag then, or any other time, to locate such items. Use ziplock bags for liquids, to contain any possible leaks. Bring Space Bags to hold clean clothes. You can often find generic ones at dollar stores. Use mesh bags with zippers, like those you can find at Joann Fabric and Craft Stores, to hold dirty clothes and small items like a laptop cable, phone chargers and extra camera batteries, and one or more small bags for toiletries and medication. If you bring a DSLR camera, try to limit yourself to 1 or 2 lenses, such as a wide angle prime lens and a good multipurpose zoom lens. Carry the camera at the top of your bag, for easy access. Use a crush-proof, padded bag insert to protect the camera. This can be lifted out to access other items below.
Bring a small first aid and emergency kit and keep it in a handy spot, like in an outer pocket of your bag. Good things to include would be several sizes of bandages, antiseptic packets or swabs, a needle and thread, a small magnesium fire starter and a mini Bic lighter, a small compass and cotton swabs. It is a good idea to include Benadryl allergy medicine which may prevent anaphylactic shock, in the event of an insect or spider bite or bee sting. A plain regular strength aspirin may save a life, if someone is having a heart attack. It can also be made into a paste to relieve a toothache. A small folded plastic tarp or poncho and a space blanket are useful items to have in an emergency. Put a couple strips of duct tape along the bottom and back of the bag. You will find it has a hundred uses along the way. Even better is gaffer’s tape, which is like duct tape, but without the annoying residue. It is the type of tape used in the TV industry, to tape down cables.
Plan your clothing well. Stay casual and bring clothing that all goes well together. Layer clothing to adapt to the weather. Athletic wear base layers, made of wickable stretchy material take up little space and dry quickly when washed. No matter the season or climate, bring at least one waterproof jacket. If you have to bring a jacket for cold weather, strap it to the top of your bag when not in use, to save the space inside the bag. If you must bring hiking boots, the can also be strapped to the outside of the bag. If you are a photographer, instead of a bulky tripod, consider a monopod instead, which can double as a walking stick while hiking. Light weight, carbon fiber ones are especially nice for travel, which also can go on the outside of the bag.
Guard against theft by bringing a bike lock. The most common crime you will likely encounter, anywhere in the world, is a quick snatch-n-grab. If you are sitting at a open air cafe, for example, someone might just grab your bag and walk away, when your head is turned. Lock your bag to the table leg and they won’t make it far. Also remember that the most valuable item you carry will be your ID and passport. Keep a photocopy of your driver’s license and passport in your bag and with your travelmate. It could re-unite you with your bags or family if something goes wrong, or in case of theft, might get you home a bit faster, with the help of your embassy.
Bring a bag within a bag. The last important item is a small, inexpensive looking day pack. If you are out sightseeing, you can leave you main back safely locked in your hotel, and just bring your camera, a change of clothes or light jacket and your first aid kit. It will also give you a bit of extra space to bring home a few souvenirs when you come home.